EDitorial ± 12-Apr-2012

Out On A Port Lympne

Seated at the front of the safari vehicle at Port Lympne zoo -- oops, "Wild Animal Experience" -- all was fine with the world. We'd made good time into Kent, looked into a short break in one of the under construction Elephant Lodges, and were more than ready to see some wildlife in the raw/roar.

Five minutes after the truck pulled away, it began to rain. No problem: there's a tarpaulin roof. See those giraffe legs through the trees? There's some Przewalski's horses in the distance. That black rhino's grumpy. Turning a corner, a pool of water splashed over those with window seats. Soggy legs. We'll dry out.

Vehicle stops, everybody out. We trudge through the drizzle into the Discovery Zone in search of an indoor cafe. Ah, all seating is outside. Meerkats are nowhere to be seen. At least it's warm and dry (if crowded) in the reptile house. We practice our parseltongue and hope that the glass holds on the tarantula & cockroach cases. Back out into the chill to queue for the next ex-army DUKW.

When it turns up, it's out with the tissues to wipe the wooden slats. Great views both out to the coast and of a nearby ostrich. Is that the sun coming out? No. No, it's not, as we're disgorged into the Carnivore Territory, which is when the hail starts. Quick, kids, run for that cafe! We're super fortunate to grab a table and chairs for the six of us. Parents join queue to fetch jacket pots and chips for all. Outside, there's ice building up on the metal furniture. Nevermind, we're snug enough in here.

Best part of an hour later, we haven't moved and the rain doth persist. Seems like most folk have opted to hitch a lift back to Basecamp. Not us. We've paid our money and we're dang well gonna take the Primate Trail on foot. Five minutes later, drenched and depressed, a robust family discussion ensues. Sheltering under the Palace Of The Apes, a park car stops to ask if we need rescuing. No, we're fine, it'll pass, etc.

There's a full ten minutes of sunlight shortly afterwards while we watch a binturong, aka bear cat, eat lunch. We even do another circuit to catch the red pandas, though they too are laying low. Quite a sight to see a southern cheetah go from 0-60 in an attempt to catch a nearby rabbit. When we finally leave, the gift shop's shut and ours is one of the only remaining cars. Our clothes are steaming as we shed layers for the return journey. Love those family days out.